“Why the American Justice System Is Failing Us” Interview of Kamau K. Franklin and Faraji Muhammad by Sharmini Peries on The Real News Network Dec 5, 2014

PLAN: A MLK Jr. National Day of Action on address police brutality

Click for Source Video and Text on The Real News Network

Activist attorney Kamau K. Franklin (NYC) helps police misconduct victims and others and works on youth development, police misconduct, community cop-watch programs, freedom school programs for youth and electoral work. In Palestine he helped monitor Israeli human rights abuses.

Farajii Muhammad, co-founder, president and spokesman for the youth-governed organization, New Light Leadership Center and works to develop young leaders and connect youth to resources of government. His radio show “Listen Up!” airs on public radio at Morgan State University.

SHARRMINI PERIES EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: The American justice system appears to be falling apart at the seams with recent decisions on Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Trayvon Martin in Florida, and Tyrone West right here in Baltimore, the nation is rapidly losing confidence in their justice system. The African-American community in particular is the target of racism, police brutality, and unjust and disproportionate incarceration.

Kamau, what is your takeaway of what’s going on in this country?

FRANKLIN: Folks are not surprised at the outcome. We should stop saying the American criminal justice system is broken, because it’s working the way it was intended to work.

FRANKLIN: It is up to us in the organizing community to change that system, but that system is working the way it was built to work, since the Rodney King fiasco in the early ’90s caught on videotape and NOW this is also caught on videotape for all to see yet indictments don’t happen and these police are let off. Our black community is treated as one that armed police can get away with doing anything they want to do without any consequences — A sad state of affairs, not only for the community, but the larger nation. Our young people grow up in this violent atmosphere putting their lives on the line to defend their civil and human rights.

FRANKLIN: The good thing about this is that people are springing into action and mobilizing and organizing against these horrendous actions that are taking place in our community.

PERIES: Feraji, what are your thoughts?

MUHAMMAD: I agree the system is working the way it’s supposed to. The great thing that comes out of this situation is that you’ve got young people who are now becoming activated. My generation have to go through these type of incidences like our parents went through. Like Medgar Evers and so many others lost their lives unjustly we are going through that. This is creating momentum, anger, pain, and frustration that if channelled creates a movement that picks up where our ancestors left off 50 years ago to realize real justice. A new energy with ideas from the young people — A fearlessness without compromise.

MUHAMMAD: Eric Garner and Mike Brown decisions have created these demonstrations all across the country. The enemies of our community, whether in police or city hall or corporations are starting to see that they are dealing with a NEW generation that’s not afraid, that’s not going to allow things to continue to happen and go unnoticed. Accountability is going to be necessary. That’s part of the effort for us to get justice.

MUHAMMAD: Some real changes, not just this very sugar-coated little reforms here and there like body cams nut the whole SYSTEM has to be CHANGED.

PERIES: Feraji, you’re an organizer here in Baltimore and you have a city council that’s largely black. They’re supposed to be overseeing the police. What are you saying to them?

MUHAMMAD: Decision-makers that allowed a gag order law that prevents victims that may have been compensated from speaking and sharing their experiences and stories — That law must be removed or we will remove you from power.

MUHAMMAD: In Baltimore 60+% of the population is black with a black mayor and black city council president and black police commissioner. The conversation has to be about why black politicians allow legislation that militarizes police officers and allows even greater police power. We need to call them out by bringing them to account and say why are you doing this and NOT working in the interests of our community?

MUHAMMAD: We’re striving for a very strategic movement that is very disciplined and shows there’s real the power behind the community demands. The power of a unified community that addresses real communities problems — NOT muddled by things like black-on-black crime and all of those things that kind of gets in the way.

MUHAMMAD: We must focus our Unified Power on the threat to the sustainability of our community by deciding what road we’re going to take. We have to get down to the root of what’s really going on and fix with a NEW SYSTEM.

PERIES: Its an enormous responsibility — bring the community together as a unified force, in large numbers, to demand change at a national level. What efforts are you working on to build that community?

FRANKLIN: The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is organizing youth programs across the country, particularly located in the South. All community organizations of AFSC and other organizations are gathering together on MLK Jr Birthday, January 15 against police violence and militarization — A day of action to express what’s wrong with our communities policing. And with Real News have some evening conversations about long-term solutions and short-term strategies for how to combat police misconduct. This very large organization we call a fountainhead, where young people get involved and tell their stories of constantly being stopped, harassed, abused by the police.

FRANKLIN: Our goal is support unifying youth together in a power base of teenagers, 20-year-olds, and 30-year-olds who are the real targets of the violent police. They need support to spread the word and organize and create longer-term solutions. Otherwise, in 20 years, we’re going to be back having some of these very similar conversations around no indictments for police crimes. Many in Media try to distract us by focusing on community violence and NOT police violence which gets us nowhere. We must unify and focus on long-term strategies as we plan for some short-term victories. We take those short-term victories but keep focus on longer-term strategies.

PERIES: Faraji in terms of building that community of support what kind of organizing goes into that?

MUHAMMAD: We’re organizing on college campuses — Starting at Morgan State University where students are activated and Mount St. Mary’s students are activated and Towson, Coppin, Hopkins and other local colleges here we’re reaching out to.

MUHAMMAD: We also have to get young people who may not be in those institutions by talking to various community organizations to get them engaged. Working with young people is a beautiful thing about what AFSC is doing for our national day of action — Creates a platform. For the southern region we have resources behind creating unity for demonstrations. We’re working on both the college and the community level to demonstrate right downtown at the homeland security, to make a statement that enough is enough. We want to have a tribunal conversation as to why it’s important for us to be united on violations by the police — strategy sessions to break that violence and create a list of changes to be put on the table.

MUHAMMAD: Our day of action goes beyond a demonstration to a larger movement that young people can be a part of — Young people are so fired up and activated, we need to build that spirit and inspiration into institutional power for our young people guided toward specific goals — that requires necessary resources. We can change things by allowing young people to channel their raw energy into accomplishments — in a strategic and disciplined unified set of goals.

MUHAMMAD: MLK Jr Day is at the beginning of the year and the whole movement will be up and running — The Young Leaders for Peace (YLP) is one component of the larger conversations — A critical mass of folks intimately involved in social justice on top of our work on police brutality — plus economic justice and educational justice. There are older individuals and young professionals involved in these goals already. We just have to come together to activate them as part of this movement.

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